Examples of physical neglect include not taking a sick or injured child to the doctor, improperly clothing a child and not feeding a child.

The study indicated that while physical abuse is a significant contributor to violent behaviour, physical neglect alone is an even stronger predictor of male adolescent violence than physical abuse, or even physical abuse and neglect combined.

"It sounds somewhat contrarian, but the physical abuse might at least show that parents are paying some type of attention to the child," said William McGuigan, an associate professor at Penn State Shenango, Pennsylvania State University.

The researchers analyzed data taken from a survey of 85 participants, who are residents of a Pennsylvania detention centre for delinquent males.

In the survey, 25 of the participants, or 29.4 percent of the group, said that they experienced at least one incidence of childhood neglect.

Acts of violence included fighting with students or parents, hitting teachers or instructors and using a weapon to scare, rob or injure another person.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in San Francisco.

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